December 12th, 2012

Facebook Users Lose the Privacy Vote

Facebook Privacy Changes

Last week, Facebook offered its users the chance to vote on a new privacy and data use proposal which would determine  how much control members will retain over their privacy settings. The proposed changes to Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SSR) and Data Use Policy include:

  • Ending user voting on changes. Instead, Facebook will only allow feedback after changes have been made, along with webcasts to answer questions and comments made to Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer.
  • User data will be able to be shared by Facebook with its affiliates, such as Instagram.
  • New filters will be set to manage incoming messages to user inboxes.
  • Changes will be made to how Facebook refers to certain products.
  • Clarification will be made regarding who can see what on user timelines.

Voting was open between the 3rd of December and midnight on the 10th of December, and although the majority of voters chose to keep the existing policies, the number of voters was not large enough to make these votes binding. At least 30% of Facebook users were required in order to make their votes count, and as a result, it is likely that Facebook will be implementing the policy changes.

So what does this mean for Facebookers? Well, the main point is that Facebook will no longer ask for your vote on proposed changes, although judging by the poor turnout on this particular voting opportunity, it’s almost a moot point. Instead, users will have to direct their opinions to Facebook’s privacy officers via feedback forms. On a profile level, the social giant will now be able to more easily share your data with affiliates, and advertisers will be able to show political and religious content on your sidebar. ‘Filters’ will be introduced to manage your messages and your profile will be easier to find through Facebook search.

In the run up to the vote, a viral (and false) message in legalese made the rounds on Facebook where users attempted to stake their claim on their Facebook data, so why, when so many people have been up in arms about the changes, did so few vote? Some claim that Facebook could have done more to publicise the voting details, although the social network ensured details appeared in news feeds and inboxes and made clear the comparison between the existing and proposed policies. But approximately 600,000 users voted of the 3oo million Facebook members worldwide, making their votes ‘advisory’ rather than binding.

Did you vote? Are you unhappy with the new policies? Will you stick with Facebook regardless, or will you be looking elsewhere, like Google+ or Twitter, for your social media fix? Let us know.

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